- The New York State lobbying commission concluded that Jared Abbruzzese violated the lobbying law by arranging $34,100 in private flights for Senator Bruno in 2005 and 2006, without making any accusations against the latter. [Albany Times Union]
Abbruzzese faces up to $250,000 in penalties for just offering the plane rides -- considered illegal gifts because they are valued at $75 or more. His lawyer said the case is full of holes, especially since Abbruzzese is not a lobbyist subject to the ban on gifts to public officials.But the commission unanimously thinks that it's Abbruzzeses's case which is full of holes. He was a director of Friends of New York Racing at the time of the flights, and that group was a registered as a lobbying entity at that time.
According to testimony collected by the commission from the group’s former president, Mr. Abbruzzese arranged meetings with Mr. Bruno, a friend and fellow thoroughbred enthusiast, and gave officials political advice about dealing with the senator. Because of those actions, according to the commission, Mr. Abbruzzese was effectively a lobbyist, though he has never registered as one and has resisted a subpoena from the commission, arguing in state court that he does not fall under its jurisdiction. [New York Times]The case is now being referred to a new committee, the Commission on Public Integrity, which the present lobbying commission is being folded into, and which will contain many of the same members. That new panel will decide if it will pursue the matter further, and whether to try and force Abbruzzese to produce records and testify. An appellate court has already denied his attempt to quash any subpoena, and commission members said that the Court of Appeals often doesn't take up unanimous decisions from the appellate division as in this case.
I would like to set the record straight here - I wrote yesterday that some of the flights in question occurred when Abbruzzese was a director of Empire, but that was incorrect. The latest flights being examined took place in January, 2006. Friends disbanded in February, and Empire was formed the next month. Of course, some of us believe that there was in reality little distinction between the two. In checking my erroneous facts, I came upon a Feb, 2006 article from Bloodhorse that reported on Friends' disbanding. And it reported:
[Tim] Smith said some of [the] members now "have different priorities" with the bidding process becoming more formalized.That, of course, was a bunch of crap. For those affiliated with Friends who then became involved in the franchise bidding - Magna, Churchill, Woodbine, Scientific Games, as well as Smith himself, Abbruzzese, Dennis Brida, Richard Bromze, and Jeff Perlee - "moving on to other things" meant joining together to form Empire Racing, which formulated a for-profit bid along the lines of what was recommended by Friends.
"When the RFP process starts in earnest, the same set of players that funded our work are moving on to other things," Smith said. "We just reached the end of our funding and the end of our main mission." [Bloodhorse]
- They're off at Belmont, and do you mind if I complain - just a little - yet again? I'm in this streak of running second to longshots, and it happened again in the daily double. I bet a cold double with favored Tactical Gold in the first with Lukas' first-timer Silver Edition in the second. The former, sent off at 4-5, got beat by 20-1 Wood Winner, who he tried to savage according to the chart. Lukas' horse paid $16 in defeating the heavily favored Immortal Eyes - .25 to 1!! - and the will pay on my double was $41, damn. Wood Winner is trained by Gary Sciacca, and the hot trainer trend continues; Sciacca, after starting out 1 for 33 at Saratoga, had two longshot winners upstate in the last three days of the meeting. The Belmont meeting is certainly off to an ominous start for chalk players with these two heavily bet favorites going down to defeat.